RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Seventy-one percent of U.S. adults plan to do more than half of their holiday shopping online this year and sixty-six percent said they will shop more at local small businesses – meaning it’s more important than ever for Triangle businesses to get online.

If you’re a small business owner in the market for tips on doing just that, you can stop shopping. Google has geared up the Grow with Google initiative to provide a variety of free, virtual workshops and resources to help small businesses across the country succeed this holiday season.

As a Grow with Google Digital Coach, my job is to help businesses reach new customers, thrive online and grow. Since the program launched in North Carolina in May, I’ve held 25 workshops for more than 13,000 small business owners in North Carolina. You can peruse upcoming workshops here.

Latesha Byrd (Google photo)

In the meantime, I’ve pulled together these top tips for small businesses this holiday season, as well as a few suggestions for how consumers can safely support their favorite local shops:

  • Claim your free Business Profile on Google: This is THE most important way you can make sure customers are finding you via an internet search or on Google Maps! Once you’ve claimed your listing via Google My Business, update your Business Profile with information that helps customers know more about your business: hours, shopping options, and more. Pro tip: Make sure to double check your phone number is correct and turn on messaging to quickly connect with customers who have questions.

  • Share in-store inventory online: 77 percent of holiday shoppers in the US said that they would browse for gift ideas online this year, not in-store. If you don’t have a strong e-commerce presence, Pointy from Google can help you get your inventory online. By connecting information from a Pointy device or a compatible Point of Sale system to your Business Profile, you can appear in search results when shoppers are looking for specific items.

  • Let customers know more about your business: When customers search for local businesses to support this holiday season, make sure they know your business identifies as Black-owned, women-led or veteran-led by proudly showing it on Google.

  • Let shoppers know how you’re operating: Searches for “curbside pickup” have grown over 3,000% globally since last year. Let customers know what you’re offering, whether that’s curbside or in-store pickup–or if you have delivery options! You can also add links to your online store directly to your Business Profile on Google, so shoppers can easily place a pickup or delivery order when searching for local businesses.

  • Don’t just work in the business, work on the business: Tools like Google Analytics and templates in Google Sheets are more important than ever to making sure you are delivering to your customers what they want and need as well as keeping an eye on your bottom line. Don’t know where to start? Checkout Google for Small Business’ Skillshop for a brush up.

For consumers:

  • Save time and social distance with busyness information: Check Google Maps new live business information before stepping out for a shopping trip.  You can see how crowded a place typically is on a given day or time–and even how busy it is right now.

  • See local businesses’ health and safety info: If you’re eating out or getting a head start on your holiday shopping,  learn more about the safety precautions local  businesses are taking – like whether they’re sanitizing between customers, if there’s safety dividers at checkout and if they require staff to have regular temperature checks.

No doubt 2020 has been immensely challenging. But savvy online practices can help make this holiday season a success for small businesses – and hopefully, a joy.

About the author

Latesha Byrd is the founder of Byrd Career Consulting, which provides resume and LinkedIn makeovers, interview coaching, and executive career coaching. She frequently partners with tech startups and Fortune 500 companies to deliver workshops on career engagement and advancement. Latesha also runs an international online membership for working women of color, Career Chasers Members Club, that provides ongoing career development, coaching and community with 600+ members.